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Weird, or wonderful?!

It’s the time of year when many people have a bit of a clear out. Whether this is to more easily store gifts received at Christmas, because a new year has prompted a spring clean, or just because, charity shops are often overwhelmed by donations at this time of year.

Whilst you or I may bag up clothes we haven’t worn over the last year, perhaps toys or books that are no longer wanted, there are some individuals who have very different ideas about what to donate to their local good cause.

Donations box filled with tins and a cardboard sign

According to the BBC, charity shops across the UK have seen some strange items cross their threshold. Oh, what a lovely pretty vase! On further inspection, it contained someone’s ashes. Beloved pets that have been stuffed to provide ongoing companionship have ended up discarded in a storeroom—who else is going to love the regrettably-deceased Fido as much as you?!

Then there are the sex toys. You could argue that these are worthy items to donate, once the original owner has no further use for them. With a Duracell battery, there could be tons of life left in them. In all honesty, though, even if you knew an item of this kind had been scrubbed clean over and over again, would you still bring one home with you?!

Artificial limbs and false teeth have also been amongst the weirdest items charity shop staff have received. You’d think their owners would notice them missing.

Angela Whelan, of Hope House Children’s Hospice, based in Wales and neighbouring counties, is often amazed at the things that sell. The charity thought they would be saddled with…a saddle for a camel. You don’t tend to see too many of them roaming the Welsh hills. However, much to Angela’s surprise, the item sold really quickly.

Other strange donations include a live hand grenade, a passport photo booth, a farmer’s castrating tool, a scorpion pickled in formaldehyde, a slice of pizza, a bag of carrot’s tips and a used toilet brush. One shop was gifted a real bird that was full of life at the same time as a hamster’s cage that still housed its occupant, though the only thing the poor rodent was full of was rigor mortis. Pregnancy test kits, Viagra tablets, suppositories with their own bottom-wiping tool, a catheter and a haemorrhoid cushion, a second-hand toilet seat, a unicycle, a soiled pair of pants, a live hedgehog and a voodoo kit represent just a small sample of the weird and wonderful(!) things charity shops across the UK have been furnished with.

grey parrot locked behind a cage

Whilst some of these items will have been donated by accident, the rest were probably intentional. A number of them could even have been the result of a prank. If this sounds like something you’d do, please don’t. I’m quite sure charity retail staff have better things to do than be faced with items that belong in your bin, so check your donation bags before dropping them off…one charity worker emptied out some innocent looking garments from a carrier bag and found a used tampon amongst them. On that note, anything that has come into contact with your bodily fluids shouldn’t be made available for further use or consumption by strangers (if anyone at all).

Even if the items you want to donate are typical, such as items of clothing, make sure they’ve still got some life left in them. Don’t include clothing that is past its best, i.e. stained or torn. Charity shops don’t have the facilities of dry-cleaners, and they certainly don’t have time to make garment repairs. These clothes will have to be sent to the ragman, which is one more job for the volunteers to do. Be responsible for your own waste, don’t palm it off onto people who are unlikely to even be paid for dealing with your detritus.

Charity shops rely on donations, but there has to be a line drawn in the sand somewhere to prevent them from becoming local waste centres.


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